Belgium: World’s comic strip kingdom

Belgium: World’s comic strip kingdom

Tales of numerous characters that were once confined to pages of newspapers and magazines, spring to life in Belgium, captivating audiences worldwide through TV screens

By Selen Temizer

BRUSSELS (AA) - Belgium, the birthplace of world-famous comic book characters such as the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, and Tintin, keeps this characteristic alive on the streets of its cities and preserves it in its museums.

The tales of numerous characters, which were once confined to the pages of newspapers and magazines, sprang to life in Belgium, captivating audiences worldwide through television screens.

The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Tintin, Asterix and Obelix are among the works that have spread from Belgium to the world.

The country, which has hosted more than 700 illustrators, has many private comic book museums as well as the Comics Art Museum affiliated with the federal government, which has been in service since 1989.

The building of the Comics Art Museum, which defines and promotes Belgium as a "Comic Kingdom," also combines the country's leadership in comics and Art Nouveau.

Built by the famous Belgian architect Victor Horta, the museum represents one of the unique examples of Art Nouveau with its iron curves, colorful stained-glass windows, and wide marble staircases.

Rafael Deroo, one of the museum's guides, told Anadolu that many volunteers like him serve at the museum to preserve Belgium's comic book heritage.

Deroo explained that comics became popular in Belgium during WWII when access to American comics was cut off. Initially, he claimed, newspapers featured comics to encourage people to read them more, and then comics magazines began to appear.

Noting that three studios have been established in Belgium, Deroo said Brussels had become a center for comic book production.

He said the illustrators made a living off of their work, which dealt with current national and international events through references to newspaper headlines.

Although the target audience of Belgian comics was primarily children, they also appealed to adults, he added.

The comic book volunteer also said as a tourism project to convey the message that “there is another Brussels," scenes from the comics have been carried on the walls of Brussels, then Antwerp, and Charleroi since 1991.

While touring the city, one can see scenes from the adventures of the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, or Tintin adorning the facades of buildings.

Created in 1929 by Georges Prosper Remi, better known as Herge, Tintin, whose name is synonymous with Belgium, is depicted on a wall in the city center with his dog Milu and his friend Captain Haddock on a new adventure.

The lone cowboy of the Wild West, Lucky Luke is also waiting for travelers on the streets of Brussels. Lucky Luke is accompanied by his horse Jolly Jumper and the Daltons.

On the ceiling of the passage connecting the historical center of the city to the Central Train Station, where the Smurfs village is drawn, there are details of Belgium's world-famous symbols such as the Atomium, a landmark modernist building, and French fries (frit).

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